CONTINUED FROM LAST POST
Story and photos by Carola C. Reuben, Earthy Reporter
Rain kept beating me on the head as I rode on a motorcycle taxi. The driver could not possibly see the road through the rain, so I assumed he arrived by instinct to the pier in Pak Bara, Thailand (photo below).
My bungalow bathroom was like a cement tunnel (photo below), and one had to pour buckets of water into the toilet to flush it. However, it was not raining in there.
I told him people keep telling me that during the monsoon season I can take a boat to only one island, Lipe. I said it is not possible that people who live on other islands are trapped there for months. He confirmed that little boats do go to some green islands.
So, early the next morning I spoke to travel agents who sat at tables on the sidewalk near the pier.One agent, who had permed his straight hair into curls, said with an effeminate flick of his hand, “Ugh.. what would you do in Bulon Leh? Everything is closed there.” Then I met Yoh, who spoke Thai for me to a boat driver heading to Bulon Leh. However, the boat would not leave that day in stormy weather.
Since I was stuck in Pak Bara, I upgraded my lodging. For $15 (instead of $8 for the bungalow), I settled into Best House Resort, which offered hot showers and air conditioning. The room even had original art work on the walls ( photo below), and on the TV, Hollywood celebrities were speaking in Thai.
On shore, I squeezed out the water bulging in my pants pockets. I felt like a pickle marinated in brine, but then the rain was washing away the salt.
I walked across a stretch of grass to a row of rooms, which turned out to be the school. A woman covered in clothing, Muslim-style, greeted me; that part of Thailand is largely Muslim. She put her umbrella in my hand, pointed, and said, “bungalow.”
A muddy walk later, I met Bit at Bulone Resort, which had two rows of huts; one row was on the beach, where I would be the only guest.
During the green curry dinner on Bit’s porch, he told me he used to take tourists snorkeling at Bulon Leh 15 years ago. Then he met his future wife and stayed on the island. Bit’s wife and her 11 siblings, the Orgsara family, own Bulone Resort, managed by her Swedish brother-in-law.
The next morning it was deemed safe enough for a boat trip, and I was ready to leave. A cart pulled by a tractor took a few of us to the boat. There are no roads on the island; the tractor chugged along on a narrow trail through the dense greenery.
At the pier, a 50ish overweight Frenchman, who said he lives mostly in Thailand, nestled near a young Thai woman. I remembered what Marsha P.Waren, a US native who was a teacher for 4.5 years in Thailand, had said to me. She called trying to catch a foreigner “a career choice” for Thai women.
On the mainland at the food stand on the sidewalk, I met an elderly Swedish man living quietly ever after on Bulon Leh. He was with Mark from UK, who spoke elatedly about Serendipity, the upscale resort hotel he was about to open on Lipe island. Mark, perhaps in his 40s or 50s, left behind him what he described as a stressful lifestyle as a salesman; he sold his property and put everything he had in the new business. “It is the first sort of nutty thing I ever did,“ he said.
A long trip later when I was back home in Langkawi, Malaysia, I vowed not to go ever again on a journey during the monsoon.
Copyright, 2010, Carola C. Reuben, Earthy Reporter